Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Flashing Cursor of Doom

I imagine that years and years ago, perhaps even centuries, there were those who sat with a fountain pen (or quill), a pot of ink and a blank sheet of paper. They stared at that blank sheet of paper and felt the weight of the world on their shoulders. They struggled to write down a single word - just one word to get them started, a single word to be the pebble removed from the damn. That blank paper was their adversary, their nemesis.

On a side note, I believe that the word nemesis is my favorite word in the English language. I always say that it's antidisestablishmentarianism because it shouldn't mean anything, but I think really it's nemesis. Say it a few times. Go on. I bet you'll be sold. 

Then, came the typewriter. I'm sure that many writers started out in notebooks and then typed their finished works, and for them, the blank page still loomed large and terrifying, but for others, the blank page was eclipsed by the tiny sliver of white above the bar. The signal that you were at the very top of the page and not moving. The visual sign that the keys weren't moving and neither was that paper.

Also the silence, because typewriters are loud. In a satisfying way. Like slamming a kitchen cabinet when you are mad. Oh, whatever, don't pretend that you've never slammed a door or thrown something or kicked something and been extremely satisfied by the noise it makes. Sometimes it's exactly what you need. I'm also going with healthy. You shouldn't hold in all that rage.

Then came a whole new era. The era of the personal computer. Of word processing. Of the flashing cursor. No greater foe had ever been witnessed. The flashing cursor changed the landscape of writer's block forever. No more could you fill up the first part of the page with nonsense and then scribble it out, making the big blank page less scary. No more could you hit the carriage return a few times and move down the page and type Chapter 1, like it was an artistic choice. Now, the flashing cursor can appear anywhere, mid-word on occasion and remind you with it's pulsating persistence that you are stuck. That you have no idea where you are going.

Of course, the real issue is the rhythm. Taunting you. Staring you in the face. Mocking you. "You suck, you suck, you suck..." it chants in it's stupid flashing idiocy. "Don't you know any other words," you may scream at your screen. "Don't you? Don't you? Don't you?" the flash says back. Oh,  you think that sounds crazy? I suppose maybe it does. Just imagine how much crazier I would be if I were still holding in that rage.

There is no scribbling, no filling the page, because you can erase everything rubbish. There is no moving down the page because it will still be there, haunting you. Taunting you.

Stupid cursor.

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